I have heard of countless ways to spark inspiration. Using the images on tarot cards, eavesdropping on public conversations, searching through public photo albums, etc. As many stories as there are in the world, there are ways to think them up. This one, though, is one of my favorites.
Packaged in a small orange box are nine, six-sided dice. Each side contains a different image. Each image could be interpreted in a hundred different ways. The result? Millions of combinations. And almost as many ways for a writer to make use of them.
The inside of the box describes a game-style setup where dice are rolled and then divided up among group of players. The group comes up with a general theme (“The Beach,” “On an Airplane,” “At School,” etc.) and then take turns adding to the story with something related to the images on the dice they hold. This is a fun game and definitely a good ice breaker (especially at a writer’s conference!), but what if it’s just you? Personally, I look at these as an alternative to writing prompts.
When I feel like writing something new, something unrelated to the stories I’m already working on, I roll the dice. I choose at least three images and try to combine them into a story. Now, as a personal challenge, I limit myself to one handwritten page. I have the tendency to make things overcomplicated and let them develop further and further until I have another novel idea on my hands. It’s good practice and it’s fun, too. Below is an example of one of my prompts. The images I picked were fire, a bee, and a key. I have very little idea what is happening in these characters’ lives outside of this moment, but the moment is very interesting…
The phone call woke me up, but it was the voice on the other end that shook me to the core.
“There’s been a fire.”
I bolted up, the sheets so tangled that they almost choked me. “Where?” I barely breathed. It wasn’t possible. I didn’t have that kind of luck.
“Bee’s place.” Ted’s voice cracked. “She never got out.”
Bless the stars. She’d finally managed to do it. She’d always said she would go out in a blaze of glory, but I hadn’t thought she was speaking literally.
“Jesus Christ.” I heard Ted start sobbing, but I couldn’t think of anything to say that wasn’t meaningless except, “Do you need me to come down there?”
“No,” he gasped and started coughing. “No. I don’t want you to see this.”
I was already up and getting dressed. “It was a rhetorical question, Theodore.”
He couldn’t even argue with me. I said goodbye as I stepped onto my porch and there it was. As promised. I slowly picked up the envelope and took out a key and a note.
Take care of my Teddy, Beth. He’s a good boy, but he would never understand. I hope this will help.
For only $7.95, I think it’s more than worth it. You can get them at Barnes & Noble in their games department and probably most local bookstores that carry games, or order them online from a variety of places.